Peoria Public Radio Staff
Wed February 27, 2013
Senate Hearing On Gun Control Turns Emotional
Things on Capitol Hill today turned emotional, when Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son was killed in Sandy Hook, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Throughout, Heslin held a picture of him holding his son Jesse Lewis, who was 6 at the time of rampage, during his first Christmas. Two other oversized pictures of a smiling Jesse were place on easels beside him.
Heslin's voice cracked almost from the beginning, when he said Jesse was killed about 20 minutes after he dropped him off at school.
"Jesse was the love of my life," Heslin said. "He was the only family I had left."
He added: "I'm not here for the sympathy, a pat on the back, as many people stated in the town of Newtown. I'm here to speak up for my son."
Heslin went on to say that he was a believer of the Second Amendment, but that weapons in this country needed to be better regulated. He said no one needed an assault weapon and "no person should have to go through" what he is going through.
As The Hill reports, the hearing was called to review Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) proposed ban on assault weapons. The paper reports that things also turned heated, especially in an exchange between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn.
The Hill reports:
"'If we're going to expand background checks, we ought to start enforcing the laws that are on the books,' Graham said.
"Flynn said he didn't know if he had referred any cases for prosecution, but took issue with Graham's line of questioning as the two men shouted over one another.
"'We make 2,000 gun cases a year, we're not paper chasers,' Flynn said. 'We don't chase paper, we chase hard criminals!'"
NBC News reports that a group from Newtown, Conn. were at the hearing today. Beforehand, they met with members of Congress, asking them to pass a assault weapons ban.
"'We appreciate what you do, more and more, seeing those meetings,' Newtown resident Shelley Northrop told Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who with fellow Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal stopped to talk quietly with the group from Newtown before the hearing began. Northrop was explaining to Murphy just how difficult it all seemed to get anything done.
"'It's all tactical. Here, it's all tactical,' Murphy told her.
H"e was being more diplomatic than Republican Sen. John McCain was last week, when he told the mother of a victim of the shooting in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater: 'I can tell you right now you need some straight talk. That assault weapons ban will not pass the Congress of the United States,' McCain said."
It's still not clear whether Feinstein's bill will be voted on.